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Commentary of Surat ul-Ankabut on advent of Zaman - Versese 11-20

11 And most certainly Allah will know those who believe, and most certainly He will know the hypocrites.

The aspect most difficult for the nafs (lower self) to witness is hypocrisy. Most actions are justified in a hypocritical way. A man may say he is working fi sabili-llah (in the way of Allah), but may actually want to gain a high reputation, or become the imam of a community or the leader of a country. If his actions are for Allah's sake the afflic­tions from people will drive him more towards the source, into his innermost, into dependence upon Reality. The people themselves are not in awareness but they are nonetheless a reflection of Reality to the mu'min.

Because that reflection may not be seen clearly, those who are weak in their trust and do not derive wisdom and spiritual growth from events, may read afflictions brought about by the wrongdoings of man as being signs that Allah is punishing them, that Allah is not rewarding them for being on the path of iman. The weak at heart look for signs in order to weaken themselves further. The man of discrimination simply dismisses such occurrences as men's injustices. It is an imposition, a natural occurrence which strengthens those who are strong at heart, strong in iman, and weakens those who are weak at heart. It is nature's way of sifting out those without wisdom.

12 And those who disbelieve say to those who believe: Follow our path and we will bear your wrongs. And never shall they be the bearers of any of their wrongs; most surely they are liars.

13 And most certainly they shall carry their own burdens, and other burdens with their own burdens, and most certainly they shall be questioned on the resurrection day as to what they forged.

The early people, when their iman was weak, when other people were causing them trouble, wanted to give up their belief in the Prophet Muhammad, salla-llahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam. They claimed that Allah was sending them messages in the form of afflictions, indicating that they should take the path of least resistance. But it was the path of expediency that they wanted to follow, and therefore, in time would become the more difficult path. Afflictions are the test of nature upon man. Those who turned away from the right path lacked discrimination and 'iman. They read into the signs the most obvious meanings, without considering the direction in which they were being led.

What occurred at the dawn of Islam is repeated- at all times. It is man who reads loss into afflictions. This has nothing to do with Real­ity. A sign is sent by Allah in order that the mu'min recognizes that the others are wrongly guided. Man reads into signs what he wishes according to the strength of his iman and the purity of his intention. Allah says: "My mercy encompasses everything." Man must try to see it. The law is there, written; it is up to him to penetrate into the sub­tleties of how that law operates at all times, under all circumstances, everywhere and for everyone. Allah's mercy is instantaneous and the degree of its being seen, felt and tasted is the degree of the sincerity of one's iman.

14 And certainly We sent N'uh to his people, so he remained among them a thousand years save fifty years. And the deluge overtook them, while they were unjust.

15 So We delivered him and the inmates of the ark, and made it a sign to the nations.

The Prophet, salla-llahu alayhi wa blihi wa sallam, said: "My ex­ample and the example of the close and selected members of my family is like the ship of Nuh (Noah): he who rides in it will be safe, but he who does not will flounder."

If man takes on the conduct of the Prophet and his family, car­rying a passport issued from their way, he will move safely from one port to another. He will pass from the port of mortality to the port of immortality. If he does not, he will flounder and at best be confused. That is the state of the majority of people whether or not they call themselves Muslims. They do not hold to His rope. The Qur'an says very clearly: Those of you that want to follow Allah and know Him, follow the Prophet, follow what he stood for and what he reflected. Follow in the footsteps of those who came after him. A hadith (tradition, saying) says: "Men of knowledge are the heirs of the prophets." What is there to inherit from a prophet but his knowledge and its application in one's life?

In existence everything we witness is based on duality, such as life and death, guidance and misguidance, leading and being led. Man experiences opposites simultaneously. He loves and hates simultaneously. If a man loves truth, justice compassion and generosity, then he is bound to hate injustice, tyranny and meanness.

By understanding and actually experiencing this concept man can guide his actions toward the higher opposites so that they emanate from the opposites that are closer to the attributes of Reality. He recognizes that he has travelled a great distance from the lower tendencies toward the higher tendencies. He has left fear and insecurity and approaches positiveness, secure in the knowledge that he will come to know and be able to improve the quality of life around him.

16 And (We sent) Ibrahim, when he said to his people: Serve Allah and be careful of (your duty to) Him; this is best for you, if you did but know.

17 You only worship idols besides Allah and you create a lie; surely they whom you serve besides Allah do not control for you any sustenance, therefore seek the sustenance from Allah and serve Him and be grateful to Him; to Him you shall be brought back.

18 And if you reject (the truth), nations before you did indeed reject (the truth); and nothing is incumbent on the apostle but a clear delivering (of the message).

Follow those who possess 'ulu ul- amr, those who possess that command by idhn (permission), hold the order in their hands and can interpret it. The order of Allah is the way of Allah, which is the recognition of the truth and reality that comes by abandonment and submission into the one and only Reality. Outer order and command brings about physical order. The order of Allah is in the purpose of His creation which is that His highest creation, man, should come to know His will as it manifests in His laws which govern existence.

Man stumbles on in his life with the purpose of knowing the laws that govern right and wrong action. Affliction and turmoil are only the natural means for man to come to know the boundaries so that he does not transgress them, so that he knows .at what point he is be­ginning to cause himself harm. The ulu ul amr are the people who know the order of affairs, who have wisdom and the innate, innermost knowledge that there is only Reality and that It manifests in every man and form. Taking on their knowledge is bound to lead one to suc­cess and not to self-harm.

Man has no control over what he may inherit. It may be that a people must pay back a debt accumulated by those who came earlier. If a man has abused his land, his children will start off with a handi­cap which they can do nothing about except seek to overcome it over a period of time. That again is the Reality. If they had knowledge, they would recognize their difficult situation and make allowances for it and not be disappointed.

Ulu' ul- amr is often misunderstood. Tyrants throughout the history of Islam, acting selfishly and despotically, simply interpreted it as `those who are in power'. It is generally recognized that those who are in power do not deserve to be. They do not represent the highest in man.

According to the true followers of the Muhammadi light, as exemplified by the holy Ahl ul-Bayt ( the Prophet's family) and illustrated amply by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, alayhi-s-salam, the ulu ul amr are those who deserve to be leading us to the knowl­edge of Allah. They have gained authority first and foremost over their lower tendencies and have knowledge that can lead others to ultimate bliss, in this life, by correct conduct, working and living in a manner that befits man, the highest of creation.

People who have often strayed off the true path use taqiyya (dissimulation of one's religion) to excuse themselves from jihad (utmost exertion in the cause of righteousness) or from exercising energy and doing their utmost as part of the will of Reality. Everything is evolving towards the higher. Man must also reflect that by doing his utmost to change circumstances that are wrong and cast dark shadows of ignorance.

Life is based upon dynamic movement. It echoes the meaning of samadiyya, foreverness. Perpetuity manifests from within us. Often man is fearful of dynamic movement, but he is much better off guard­ing against downward movement within himself and his conscience. A man of taqwa (fearful awareness) fears only Allah while showing complete fearlessness in his actions. Yet he is not disrespectful nor does he promote chaos. Everything has its boundary and its adab (courtesy).

19 Do they not see how Allah originates the creation, then reproduces it? Surely that is easy to Allah.

Creation follows the cycle of beginning, maturing, ending and then recreating. Recreation is the reflection of creation in the timeless zone. The brief flicker of creation is a hint of the state of being frozen in absolute non-time in the next life.

Man loves the `beyond time.' He cannot do without sleep which is the nearest he can taste of timelessness in this life. Some people have had the opportunity of a near fatal accident and have experienced a similitude of death. Also, in the state of dhikr (remembrance), in what the sufis call fana' (self-obliteration), there is a death of meaning. Life is a cycle of creation and recreation. As this creation came and went, so will another creation begin with a resurrection (ba'th). As man rose into wakefulness, so will another form of rising occur in a purer energy form without the physical matter which belongs to this little speck called earth.

20 Say: Travel in the earth and see how He makes the first creation, then Allah creates the latter creation; surely Allah has power over all things.

Adapted from the book: "The Mercy of Qur'an and the Advent of Zaman" by: "Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri"

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